This fall, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences welcomed Dr. Kyle Longley as the new director of the MA in War and Society program. Dr. Longley has amassed a long and impressive list of scholarship that engages conversations across disciplines and within history as he combines military, diplomatic, and social history (race, class, gender) to better understand the modern American experience of war. This background makes him a perfect fit for the MA program in War and Society which takes an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of war and society and aims to have a real-world impact by enrolling practitioners —teachers, future diplomats, and career military and foreign services personal – in the program.
“When you graduate from the War and Society Program,” Longley states, “you will walk away with a greater understanding of the topic from many different viewpoints. The depth and range of the experience will better prepare you to play a role in our society, whether from a standpoint in [a] chosen profession to a global citizen.”
Having earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky with a focus on the history of U.S. foreign relations as well as modern Latin America and East Asia, Dr. Longley began his career at Arizona State University in 1995. During his tenure, he was the Snell Family Dean’s Distinguished Professor of History and Political
Science, publishing nine books on U.S.-Latin American relations, U.S. Senate presidents, and American combat soldiers. Professor Longley’s multiple award winning, The Morenci Marines: A Tale of Small Town America and the Vietnam War, follows nine young men who left the copper mining camp of Morenci, Arizona in 1966 to serve in Vietnam. Drawing on personal interviews and correspondence, he details the death of six of the nine in combat and how those who returned home dealt with survivor’s guilt and the traumas of war. He also looks closely at the families and community members devastated by the significant loss of life in their small town.
“The goal is to prepare [students] to understand the multidimensional nature of War and Society . . . issues of the social and economic impact of war, how society shapes the way militaries wage war and peace, and what role war has played in creating unique aspects of cultures,” said Longley.
Dr. Longley engages in contemporary, national conversations in his op-eds published by the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times, and he took time off from his academic position to direct the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, 2018-2019.
Dr. Longley strongly emphasizes connecting the program to the community at the local, regional, and national level. For example, the War and Society Program recently participated in the Wilkinson College “Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on the Significance of Race” initiative by hosting Dr. Cameron McCoy of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He presented a well-received talk on African Americans in the Korean War (watch the event here!), and discussed the ongoing impact of systemic racism within the military There are additional plans for such programming in the spring including a talk about the politics of the resettlement of Amerasians from Vietnam in the 1980s and 1990s.
Beyond traditional forms of academic engagement, Dr. Longley intends to create an environment that promotes faculty and student research that engages important questions in the community vis-à-vis the issues of wars and their effects. He has already started working with Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences to develop an educational program to train health care professionals to better recognize signs of post-traumatic stress among veterans entering their hospitals and clinics.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Longley and look forward to adding his rich experience in research, teaching, and service to the MA in War & Society program and Wilkinson College,” said Dean Jennifer D. Keene.